Tufted Duck

Aythya fuligula

A type of diving duck, distinguished by its mohican-like feathers at back of head.

Tufted Duck

Tufted Duck

Quick Facts


Scientific name:

Aythya fuligula


Ducks, geese and swans

Conservation status:




40cm to 47cm


67cm to 73cm


450g to 1000g

What does a Tufted Duck look like?

The tufted duck is a small diving duck. The adult male is very distinctive, with a conspicuous head-crest of long feathers, and appears black and white at distance. In good light, the dark feathering has a sheen to it.

During the breeding season, the adult male’s head and neck, back, upper side of the wings and tail are jet black, while the lower side of the wings, belly and breast are strikingly white. Outside of the breeding season, males become drabber and look more like females.

Female Tufted Ducks are dark brown with pale flanks and a white belly. The tufted duck’s feet are large and webbed, and are set far back on the body meaning it waddles awkwardly. Its bill is grey with a white band towards end, and has black tip. And it has bright yellow eyes.

Male (right) and Female (left) Tufted Ducks

Male (right) and Female (left) Tufted Ducks

What does a Tufted Duck sound like?

The female tufted duck emits various harsh, growling notes. The males are mostly silent but will make simple ‘wit-oo’ whistles during courtship.

Tufted Duck call

Bernard BOUSQUET, XC317675. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/317675.

What does a Tufted Duck eat?

Tufted ducks mainly feed by diving. They eat snails and other molluscs, aquatic insects, some plant matter and seeds.

Tufted Duck

Where can I see Tufted Ducks?

Tufted ducks are often seen in large flocks on lakes and ponds or near coastal areas. In the UK they can be seen all year round.

Tufted Duck flying

Tufted Duck flying

Signs and spotting tips

Tufted ducks are gregarious outside of the breeding season and will often form large flocks. A wide, white band along the entire back edge of the male’s black wings is visible only during flight.

How does a Tufted Duck breed?

Tufted ducks are very versatile in terms of their breeding grounds and will utilise different types of lakes, marshes and landscapes – from coastal areas to heavy forests. The male’s feathered head-crest is used in the display to females during the breeding season. He will raise and lower the crest while bobbing his head. The tufted duck will build a nest on the ground near water, ensuring it is well hidden in deep foliage. The female lays a clutch of 8-12 eggs, that are incubated for 24-27 days, and will raise 1 brood a year.

Female Tufted Duck with her young

Female Tufted Duck with her young

How long do Tufted Ducks live for?

Tufted ducks live for up to 15 years, but the average age is around 4 years.

Do Tufted Ducks migrate?

Tufted ducks are mainly migratory. However, in the UK they are resident year-round, and in winter will be joined by birds migrating from northern Europe.

Threats and conservation

The UK breeding population of tufted ducks is estimated to be between 16,000-19,000 pairs. In winter the population increases to some 110,000 birds. The species has a Green UK conservation status.

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Other birds in the Ducks, geese and swans family

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